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European Elections: What went wrong?

European Union flag / santacrucero, flickr

European Union flag / santacrucero, flickr

Instead of celebrating a landslide win in the European Parliament elections last week, social democrats all over Europe see themselves confronted with one question: What went wrong? In an economic downturn, social democratic parties usually gain appeal to voters. Not so this time. The results of last weeks elections show devastating losses for social democrats, especially in Britain, France and Germany. The British Labour Party only got 16% of the vote and came in third place. In France, the Parti Socialiste returned with 16.5% of the vote (12 percentage points less than five years ago). The Social Democratic Party in Germany had its worst result since World War II with less than 21%.

With the Labour Party embroiled in an expenses scandal, their result didn’t come as much of a surprise. In France, however, the opportunity couldn’t have been any better with President Nicolas Sarkozy struggling with his reforms and dealing with an approval rating as low as 32%. But instead of taking advantage of the momentum, the Party Socialist got caught up in a nasty fight over power between Ségolène Royal and now party leader Martine Aubry. Issues were to be discussed at a later stage.

A similar thing happened in Germany. Admittedly, Chancellor Angela Merkel is not an easy adversary to take on. This is no reason, though, to get carried away with endless discussions about coalition building followed by an internal mud-slinging session. Again, policy debates had to be postponed.

It might be somewhat premature to announce the decline of social democracy, as some already do. With all this in mind, however, it should not surprise anybody that voters don’t believe the social democrats can lead Europe out of the economic slump.

For further reading, check out the links below:

Sarkozy on top: A good result for the centre-right, a bad one for the main opposition parties

Left out: How the far-right stole the working class

The Other Elections

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

After India’s elections, they are the second-largest in the world. And when it comes to the complexity degree I am not sure who would be top of the list. A case in point: Candidates being elected in 27 different voting procedures and 27 election campaigns, each taking place according to its own rules.

What is it about the elections to the European Parliament that makes them so special and yet so debatable? It’s a question I asked myself when skimming through a Spiegel photo stream on the most bizarre candidates to the EU Parliament. Models and showgirls, the owner of a football club and a former cosmonaut – why do they all want to make it to Strasbourg and Brussels?
» More

ISN Weekly Theme: Multiculturalism

Roma in central Bulgaria/photo: Rivard, flickr

Roma in central Bulgaria / photo: Rivard, flickr

Sharia in the UK, the growing Turkish population in Germany, Albanians in Kosovo, the integration of Roma; these issues and others have been at the forefront of Europe’s relationship with multiculturalism. We’re taking a close look at that relationship this week.

  • Shana Goldberg comments on the EU’s efforts to protect minority rights, highlighting the situation with the Roma in Europe’s Unwanted for ISN Security Watch.
  • But Dr Michael Stewart says in the latest edition of ISN Podcasts that unless the EU revamps how it views and researches Roma in general, its efforts to integrate the group will be unsuccessful.
  • Another cultural struggle for Europe is the inclusion of Muslims, as Jocelyne Cesari says in Securitisation of Islam in Europe, a featured publication in the ISN Digital Library.
  • And we’re also highlighting What’s Culture Got to Do with It, a conference held by the Nordic-Africa Institute, in the ISN Events Calendar.

Reding Says EU Not Ready for Cyberattack

Screenshot of Reding's site

Screenshot of Reding\’s site

Offering up the 2007 Estonia attacks as an example, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding says in her video blog that the EU must do more to protect member states against cyberattacks.

According to Reding, a month-long internet interruption in the US or Europe would lead to “losses of at least 150 billion euro.”

The Luxemberger took no prisoners in scolding her own organization:

“So far, the EU’s 27 Member States have been quite negligent. Although the EU has created an agency for network and information security, called ENISA, this instrument remains mainly limited to being a platform to exchange information and is not, in the short term, going to become the European headquarters of defense against cyber attacks. I am not happy with that.”

Reding believes that Europe needs a “Mister Cyber Security” (hmmm…or a “Miss” maybe?), a go-to person for when an attack is underway. The person would also be in charge of enacting plans preclude attacks.

This call is somewhat a day late and a dollar short (the EU should have gotten the message with Estonia), but Reding is on the mark in stating that the EU’s efforts have fallen far, far short.

The full video blog can be found here along with a PDF transcript.

Screenshot: Site of Viviane Reding.

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